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«Company Picnic Planning Guide Planning a Successful Company Picnic A successful company picnic can increase morale, reduce employee turnover and make ...»

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Company Picnic Planning


Planning a Successful Company Picnic

A successful company picnic can increase morale, reduce employee turnover and make everyone feel better

about the company they work for.

So you’ve been assigned the duty of planning a company picnic this year. Where do you start? You ask

yourself: What do I need to consider when planning a successful company picnic?

The purpose of this guide is to give you a roadmap to the areas that you need to consider in planning a successful event. The size, style and objective of the event will decide where you start. We will discuss: 1.

Event objective 2. Site selection 3. Event logistics 4. Event Menu/Catering

5. Entertainment 6. Event aesthetics.

Event Objective First things first, what is the objective of your event? Is this a company anniversary or the annual company picnic? A special thank you to employees for some milestone met? Is this a company expansion, merger, acquisition? How about a promotional product or company introduction?

Who will be attending? Employees only? Employees and their families? Will outsiders from the company be invited? Local dignitaries? Home office managers or other corporate “big wigs? How about company retirees? It is important that you know your attendees. Make sure to identify any potential special needs that may be required.

These are all important questions to consider, as they dictate all of the other areas of any successful event;

site selection, logistics, menu-catering, entertainment and aesthetics. Answering these questions first, gives you a template for the rest of your planning.

Another early consideration is whether to use an outsourced events planning company to assist you in planning, design and execution. You could combine a local catering company with local event rental companies with you maintaining responsibility over the entire production of the event. Certainly, cost and control are two important aspects in considering this option. Another important consideration is expertise and experience in managing such an event. If you don’t have the experience or expertise, make sure that you have someone on your committee or staff who is comfortable in handling an event with your number of attendees. If you don’t have the expertise or experience on hand, consider enlisting outside help from an event planner.

Either way, make sure any company you use has the necessary liability insurance. The minimum any vendor should have should be a $1,000,000.00/2,000,000.00 insurance policy. If you are dealing with multiple vendors make sure your understanding of their liability coverage is provided to you in writing. Most insurance policies allow them to add your company or landlord as additional insured.

Also we recommend consulting your Risk Management department regarding any other potential liabilities that may occur, such as workers compensation, vehicle liability, etc… The main objective is to have a safe, comfortable and fun event.

Site Selection Let’s start with the venue. Are you going to be on company property or somewhere off site? If you have your event on-site, you have the added benefit of having your company’s facility as the backdrop for your event. Going back to event objective, this a true benefit for building company morale. Also, everyone including quest and planning committee is familiar with the location and distance. You also know your parking is adequate and free of charge. You are also intimately aware of any potential dangers; man hole covers, lakes, fences or other dangers onsite.

One other benefit is company pride. Your employees will have the chance to show their family and friends where they work. Onsite venues offer more flexibility and accommodating support from company staff.

Not to mention the visual appeal that is gained by the set up activity and completed venue design for your employees and any local traffic. This can add excitement and anticipation for your event.

Given all the potential benefits of having your event onsite, we acknowledge there are also great benefits to having your event off site. Off-site available locations include: local parks, state parks, fairgrounds, horse parks, farms, and other local special event facilities.

In most cases these can be more aesthetically pleasing and offer logistical benefits such as; seated picnic pavilions, permanent restroom facilities, permanent power and water options and much needed shade during warm weather events. They may also offer additional entertainment features such as: swimming pools, lakes for swimming and fishing, paddle boats, playground equipment and ball fields.

Keep in mind when going off site, there may be limitations as to entry and exit times. You may have to be out of the facility before you really want to complete your event. The support staff may be limited and not as flexible as on site staff. Also keep in mind that your event will be in a public setting. Therefore you may have to take additional steps i.e. wristbands, formal check in, roped off areas and support and security to maintain the privacy of your event. The permanent entertainment activities may also have to be shared with the general public.

Lastly, there are the amusement parks, zoo’s and water parks. These offer great entertainment options and known value to your employees and guests. If given the choice of options, your employees would probably choose to have your event here. If your objective is a simple “thank you” to your employees, then this option may be a solution for you.

But be aware of the value of these options. Keep in mind that people tend to disperse at these types of venues and you can lose the intimacy of a single location company picnic. Even if you have a “picnic” lunch set up at a designated location, many people will be distracted and not come back. If your purpose is to build a “corporate community” for your workplace, this may not be the best option.There again we go back to the first question, what is the objective of your event?

Another consideration with amusement parks, zoos and water parks is the cost involved. Many parks offer discounted tickets for large corporate groups. This can be a good value. Some parks will often not allow you to bring in outside caterers. They may require that you use their food service to provide any picnic food items. Many times this will be where they make up the savings on the ticket price.

Site selection is an important decision in producing a successful event. It is also important in the next phase of the process, event logistics.

Event Logistics We call event logistics the foundation of any successful company event. Basically, with logistics you’re attempting to eliminate any “negative” feelings from your guests. Is there adequate and safe parking? Was there help in entry, parking and getting into the event? Is there sufficient signage? Is there a long check in line? Do my guests have to wait in line getting checked in while their kids are jumping up and down “dying” to get to all of the fun?

Make sure you have adequate check in capabilities for your guests. Based on the projected number of attendees, you may consider multiple check-in stations by breaking into alphabetical groups. A-J, K-R, S-Z for example. You could also do some pre-registration prior to the event. The bottom line is that you want make it easy and seamless to enter the event. We don’t want your guest first impression to be a “long line”.

The next area to consider is event design. Where are the kid’s games? Bounces or fun houses? Relay races?

Where to place concessions? How about the food service, where is the line, drinks, condiments, etc… How far is all of this from the eating area? Where is the food prep area in relation to the rest of the event? Where are the bathrooms? Your event design is important to make sure your guests are comfortable during the event.

One detail to think about is the size of the event itself. It may be that you would need to have multiple drink stations throughout the event. If Mom and Dad can’t leave young children, you want them to have ample opportunity to get something for them or the kids to drink out in the venue. Another consideration is restroom facilities, have plenty available throughout the event. Number of attendees and capacity is critical here. You also need to consider the quality of the facilities, are port o lets ok or do you need comfort stations (high end portable restroom facilities). The difference in costs can be significant.

You typically want to have seating and tables for 25-35% of your guests at any one time. So if you have 1000 attendee, that means you need seating and tables for 250 to 350 guests. Consider other activities going on in the area of that seating. The duration of the overall event is important. The more activities in a smaller amount of time means you need to plan for more seating.

Shade…have plenty available. How big a tent or multiple tents? Once you have established seating capacity, you will calculate how large a tent or tents you need. Generally, a good rule of thumb is 10 square feet per person. In most casual settings for dining, rectangular tables and tents are used. In that scenario you could allow for 9 square feet per person. For a 250 to 350 person seating tent you would need 2700 square feet of tent space. Once again, there are many considerations; it may be that you have multiple shaded, seating and table areas.

You also want to make sure that many of the games have adequate shading. This can be accomplished by utilizing natural shade trees or smaller 10x10 tents. You may also strategically place tents throughout the event for cooling purposes. If the weather is extremely hot you should also consider cooling stations or misting stations in strategic areas of the event.

Power is another logistical component. Power problems at an event can be devastating to the overall success of the event. Power requirements are often the most misunderstood logistical component of any event.

It is imperative that you understand how much each powered activity will demand and how much capacity is needed at the venue to satisfy that demand. Remember, the number of outlets do not always equate to total capacity needed. Make sure you have somebody with the knowledge of the power requirements and capacity of the venue you use.

Trash management and capacity is also important. Trash is a potential visual “negative” for any event.

Make sure you have adequate trash cans. You also need to have a trash management crew that will be responsible for the busing of tables, overall event clean up and the distribution of full trash cans outside of the action of the event.

There are other potential logistical needs to any event to include; staging, dance floor, lighting, shuttle service and first aid.

Event Menu/Catering When determining what to feed the masses there are a couple of things to consider. Know your attendees and have an idea of their food likes and dislikes. Will you need special menu items, i.e. veggie burgers or gluten free? If families will be attending, they tend to consume more flavored drinks like orange, grape or others. But beware; make sure to have enough healthy drink choices like water or juices also available as some parents like to monitor their children’s sugar intake. It is also important to determine the number of attendees and the capacity of your caterer or grill space.

These events are typically outdoor during the spring, summer and fall months. Most companies choose a simple picnic style food option such as hamburgers, hotdogs, bbq pork, and grilled chicken. The most popular sides are baked beans, cole slaw and potato salad. If an outdoor bbq type of event is the plan, make sure to keep the menu simple with options for the guest to “dress up” their food with sufficient condiments.

You can make a simple hamburger/hotdog menu feel like more by adding chili, coleslaw, etc...

The most important component of a successful catering event is to have the food served the entire duration of the event. Just think, what you are telling that family that can only get to their picnic the last hour and the food is gone. The food service and the entertainment should be going simultaneous for the entire event.

Most company picnics last from 3-5 hours depending upon the hours of the business and number of guests.

Another important component of food service is to have the food prepared onsite. The smoke from a grill adds to the atmosphere of any event. Also to have the food fresh on site adds a level of quality to the food.

The sights and smell of an outdoor barbeque add to the enjoyment of the event for your guests.

Have the food prep area behind or away from the main activities of the event. It is great to have the smoke and sounds drifting through the event, but the actual cooking and prep area can be a visual negative with boxes and foil paper and pans. Take measures in the event design to have the food prep away from the other activities.

The buffet line should be a short walk from food prep to be able to monitor the food available for guests. It is important to keep your food items warm if they are supposed to be served hot. Chafing dishes and sterno make it easy to keep things warm. You may also need warmers onsite to help keep the food warm.

Drinks must be kept cold at all times. Make sure to have enough ice on hand for the event and be aware of the type cooler or bucket that drinks will be served from during the event. We have found that cooling the drinks prior to the event can conserve on your usage of ice during the event and always make sure that any drink served is refreshing to your guests. If you are not using insulated coolers, but iced buckets, be aware to have more ice available for drinks. Also be aware of the size and design of the event. It may be that you have more the one drink station throughout the event.

When to start food preparation is important. The start time and duration of your event will determine the initial demand for food service. If your picnic goes from 11am to 3pm, the demand in your food area will be early. Almost 70 % of your food consumption will take place between 11am and 1pm. So you need to have 50% of your food prepared and cooked with the 70% number completed one hour into the event. If your event times are during dinner hours peak meal times will demand more of your food prepared and ready to serve.

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